Japanese FM invited Netanyahu to Tokyo meet with Abbas — reports

PM said to agree to participate in meeting, which also includes US envoy Jared Kushner, if the Americans give the go-ahead

Today, 2:31 pm


The Times of Israel is liveblogging Tuesday’s events as they unfold.

Japanese FM invited Netanyahu to Tokyo meet with Abbas

Visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a four-way meeting in Tokyo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US envoy Jared Kushner, Channel 10 reports.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) meets with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on December 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Heidi Levine)

Quoting a senior official, the channel’s diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid says that Netanyahu responded positively, but conditioned it on US agreement.

The Walla news site also reported the offer.

The Palestinians have refused to deal with the Americans since US President Donald Trump  recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Japan’s foreign minister reportedly invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to a four-way peace summit in Tokyo that would also include Jared Kushner, who is overseeing US President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive peace talks.

According to a report by the Walla news website, Taro Kono extended the invitation to Netanyahu and Abbas during his separate meetings on Monday with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

According to Channel 10, Netanyahu said he was open to attending, but only if the US agreed.

“If Kushner is there, I will also be there,” the report quoted Netanyahu as telling Kono.

The TV channel said the proposal was first made to Netanyahu by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when the two met in New York during the UN General Assembly in September.

It said Netanyahu told Abe he would only attend if the summit was coordinated with the US, which has traditionally been the arbitrator of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The reports did not say how Abbas responded to Kono’s proposal.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

The reported Japanese proposal came as ties between the US and the Palestinian Authority have hit a nadir following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.

In protest of the move, Abbas declared that the Palestinians no longer view the US as an honest mediator for peace talks.

An adviser to Abbas also said the PA would no longer meet with US officials regarding peace efforts, including Kushner and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Despite international criticism of Trump’s declaration, the move has been widely praised by Israeli politicians.

While meeting with Kono on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin compared Israel’s capital to Japan’s Tokyo.

“For us, Tokyo is absolutely the only capital of Japan, and Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel,” the president said.

While Kono did not publicly criticize the US recognition in his meetings with Rivlin and Netanyahu, Japan last week voted in favor of a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution condemning the American move.

Although Japan has never played an influential role in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Monday’s reports said the proposal was meant to mark 10 years since the founding of the Jericho agro-industrial park, which was set up by Japan as part of the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity Initiative aimed at promoting economic cooperation between Israel, the Palestinians, and Jordan.


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